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Relax, rest, recuperate, recover, re-charge; isn’t that what summer is all about? I can’t think of a better way to do all of the above than by enjoying a cool, refreshing popsicle. But wait what about a popsicle with your favorite beer, even better! These popsicles are full of orange flavor and the best taste of my favorite brew, Blue Moon. Blue Moon is a Belgian style white beer and it’s brew is accentuated by hints of citrus. These popsicles are so easy to whip up and very RE-freshing after a hot, summer day. This recipe is a great one to round out popsicle week, which is a week devoted to totally awesome popsicle recipes in the blog realm. You can find a gazillion more recipes here on Wit & Vinegar. I didn’t get my recipe submitted but I still wanted to share this tasty, tipsy treat! Remember popsicle responsibly!

In addition to savoring these delicious popsicles, here are a few of my other plans to help relax this summer. Mapping out my plans to relax has proven useful, because often times the summer months can be very busy. With these ideas in mind it helps me remember to step back and truly enjoy each moment of these long, glorious summer days.

  1. Go to the beach
  2. Take a walk every day
  3. Host a BBQ (I worked really hard on my backyard, I need to show it off)
  4. Visit WYOMING
  5. Enjoy some live music, with a drink in my hand
  6. Spend time with my family
  7. Read 3 books (more on this later)
  8. Go fishing (It’s been 395 days since I last got to go fishing)
  9. Cook some great food
  10. RELAX

What are ways you relax in the summer? How do you recharge?

Blue Moon


Orange Blue Moon Popsicles


1 bottle (12 fluid ounces) Belgian White Beer (I used Blue Moon)
3/4 c. orange juice
Splash of watermelon vodka
Orange slices (optional)


Mix beer, orange juice, and watermelon vodka in a blender. Carefully pour into popsicle mold. I purchased mine here. If adding orange slices add after frozen for two hours, then freeze for an additional four hours. To enjoy without orange slices freeze popsicles for 6 hours or overnight. To unfold, dip mold into warm water for 20-30 seconds. Enjoy!

orange slices




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There is something about the color robin’s egg blue that I find so calming. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of the ocean or turquoise stones, but it’s subtle hue brings a great sense of serenity. I found these robin’s eggs in my garden yesterday and I couldn’t help but capture their color! Mama Robin was a little irritated I was getting close to her next, so I made my photography session a quick one.

I truly am learning that people really do “eat with their eyes”. Collecting glassware is a hobby of mine (one in which my husband hates) and finding new pieces is always exciting. I am an avid collector of Jadeite (more on that later), but robin’s egg blue makes it’s way into my kitchen on occasion. Here are a few robin’s egg kitchen inspirations for a hopefully calming Friday.

Anthropologie Mini Latte Bowls


Pyrex 100th Year Anniversary Measuring Cup



The Pioneer Woman Adeline Glass Tumblers


KitchenAid – Artisan Series Tilt-Head Stand Mixer – Aqua Sky





It’s summer (officially)! Today, Monday June 20th marks the first official day of summer. The summer season brings so many excellent mental health benefits. The opportunity to get outside, bask in the warm weather, relax, and enjoy any and all summer activities that you may enjoy.

This past weekend we celebrated my husband’s grandfather’s 90th birthday. What an amazing feat to live this beautiful life for so many years. I truly believe happiness plays a key to a long, healthy life. So I encourage you to take advantage of summer, get outside and soak in that vitamin D!

It was a great celebration, one in which inspired my recipe for this week. The birthday supper featured fresh buns, cold cuts, savory watermelon, a delicious potato salad, and pasta salad, but the true star was the kuchen that I found hiding in the back in the kitchen.

This recipe is the epitome of summer, blackberry kuchen. Berries are one of my favorite fruits to indlulge in during the summer months, because you can find them everywhere in North Dakota. This kuchen can be made with any berry you have on hand; huckleberry, juneberry, blueberry, raspberry, you name it! Kuchen is the german word for cake. It is a classic staple in many kitchens in the Dakotas (and the state dessert of South Dakota, if you wanted to know). The combination of the two is true happiness, one that invokes the same joys as the word summer. So I encourage you to take advantage of summer, get outside and soak of that vitamin D. Find some berries and try this kuchen, it’s divine!



Blackberry Kuchen


1 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c. flour
1 t. vanilla

4 c. blackberries (or berry of your choice)
2. c. cream
1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 T. flour
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. sugar

Mix crust ingredients and pat into a greased 9×9 baking dish (recipe can be made in a 15 x 10 x 1 pan too). Pour in blackberries. Whisk topping ingredients and pour over fruit. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes until golden brown.

Yields: Two 9 x 9 pans or one 15 x 10 x 1 pan


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DSC_0359 The key to life is compromise. I can’t tell you how many times I teach what compromise is to my students and how it play such a huge role in our everyday life in how we solve problems. I like to frame it in the sense of a “win-win” mentality. Finding solutions where both parties are happy, everybody wins.

Compromise is an integral part to friendships, marriages, and even solving problems with your kids. It can be seen in the kitchen everywhere! This little classic recipe is a perfect example. My husband loves banana bread. His Mom makes sure to make him some every time he goes home to their house. It is always waiting there for him in the fridge (he likes it cold). For me the thought of eating a banana is revolting, but for some odd reason I do love banana bread. I prefer lemon poppy seed muffins, breads, cakes; you get the picture.

So there were two lonely over-ripe bananas laying around and I could tell they just needed to be made into banana bread. In order to compromise, I thought I would add a little twist and add poppy seeds to my banana bread. They add a wonderful nuttiness to the banana flavor. It’s a great compromise, one in which everyone wins in my house.

This banana bread recipe has a great story with it. I made this recipe a few years ago and it comes from my husband’s family cookbook. In the recipe it calls for 1/2 c. baking soda. As I am making the recipe, adding a 1/2 cup of baking soda I’m thinking to myself this is odd. I’ve never used this much baking soda, it’s almost the whole box! I didn’t want to ask my mother in law for fear of insulting her and their family recipe, so I just went with it. Let’s just say it tasted bad, really bad. So lesson learned, there are typos in the family cookbook. Use your better judgement and don’t use 1/2 cup of baking soda unless you are doing some weird science.  DSC_0226


Poppy Seed Banana Bread


1 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 c. mashed ripe banana
3 eggs
1 1/2 t. vanilla
3 c. sifted all purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 T. poppy seeds


Mix butter and sugar together and cream well. Mix in the bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt and mix in alternately with the buttermilk, mixing just until blended. Add poppy seeds! Put into two loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.








Creating goals is an important element of a successful life. Goals drive you towards your passions and motivate you to embrace challenge, change, and perseverance. Beginning this blog has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember! See I was the kid who woke up early to watch Martha Stewart bake a cake, the one who entered a gazillion 4-H food projects, just so I could hear that my crust was perfect and that it tasted amazing, the one who scoured garage sales for any cookbook I could find and the one who dreamed of becoming a brilliant chef when I grew up. I studied French in high school, so I would be better adept at speaking French, but it seems the only word I came out of french class with was le beurre (butter). I stayed up late watching Jamie Oliver and Iron Chef, thinking maybe I could pick up one trick that would help me in my cooking endeavors.

But through life’s twisty turns, I became a COUNSELOR. Yes, it’s a scary word and it has nothing to do with cooking or does it? Cooking has always been my therapy, my place of hunger, and my craving in life. I think cooking is therapeutic in so many ways and I hope to share this with you through my cooking.

Let’s talk about goals baby. Goals need to be smart.


So I ask myself, is this lofty goal of mine SMART? I hope we can find out on this journey.

To start I want to share a recipe for a simple cake from one of my original idols: Martha Stewart. This cake is yummy and easy to make. The frosting is a sweet, gooey candy like frosting that is melt your mouth delicious. Cheers to goals and making those goals SMART!


Vanilla Layer Cake with Easy Penuche Frosting

Cake adapted from Martha Stewart Living, July 2013


1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus more for cake pans and parchment
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup milk
1 3/4 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar


For the cake preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment as well. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat together butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat well, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, beating until combined. Add milk and vanilla and beat until just combined. Divide batter between pans; smooth tops with an offset spatula. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, 33 to 35 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks to cool completely.

For the frosting, melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the milk and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set pan in cold water bath. When you can hold your hand on the bottom of the pan, the syrup is cool enough. Keep pan in iced water bath and beat in confectioner’s sugar until thick enough to spread. If frosting is too thin add more confectioner’s sugar. If too thick, add a few drops of hot water.

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